Researchers from Zurich have developed a healthier chocolate. What’s more, it’s also better for the climate.

Researchers from Zurich say they have developed a more sustainable and at the same time healthier chocolate. In addition to the cocoa beans, they also used additional parts of the cocoa fruit, some of which serve as sweeteners. 

“Our process only uses cocoa pod components in the chocolate,” reports the team led by Kim Mishra from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich (ETH) in the journal “Nature Food”. 

“It has a similar sweet taste to traditional chocolate while offering better nutritional value with more fiber and a lower saturated fat content.” In addition, producing this chocolate “on a large scale could reduce land use and global warming potential compared to average European dark chocolate production “, is it [called.

Since the cocoa beans only make up a very small proportion of the fruit, the land area required and thus the greenhouse gas emissions due to the conversion of original tropical vegetation per bean are usually high. “Therefore, increased use of other parts of the cocoa pod, such as the pulp and cocoa shell, could not only contribute to farmers’ income diversification, but also reduce the large environmental impacts during the cultivation phase,” the researchers write.

The elongated cocoa fruit – also called cocoa pod – has a hard outer layer. If you cut the fruit open, you can see the shell and inside the rows of cocoa beans, each surrounded by light-colored fruit flesh (pulp).

In the new process, the cocoa beans from Ghana were roasted, peeled, ground and sterilized as usual, creating the cocoa mass. The team now used the inner part of the cocoa fruit shell and processed it into a powder. 

This mixed it with some of the pulp to make a sweet jelly. This replaced the normally added granulated sugar in the new chocolate. Despite the additional processing, this chocolate recipe is, according to the authors, on average more environmentally friendly than the traditional one. 

According to ETH information, the cocoa fruit chocolate has a slightly higher fiber content than an average European dark chocolate thanks to the cocoa jelly used as a sweetener – 15 grams versus 12 grams per 100 grams. 

It also contains only 23 grams of saturated fat compared to 33 grams in an average European dark chocolate. 

Small farmers could use the new chocolate to market other components of the fruit and thus gain additional income, the researchers write. All that remains is the outer fruit peel, which, according to ETH, is traditionally used primarily as fuel or composted. 

It will be some time before you can buy the chocolate. “We have shown that our chocolate is attractive and comparable in sensory terms,” says Mishra. “But now the entire value chain must first be completed, starting with the cocoa farmers who need drying systems. 

Only when the food processing company produces enough powder can the cocoa fruit chocolate be produced and marketed on a larger scale by a chocolate producer.” After all, the ETH has applied for a patent for the recipe for the cocoa fruit chocolate. 

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